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PROVINCE OF GRAMMAR.
§ 51. As the present work is meant not only to treat of the details of the English Language, but to indicate the way in which they may best be taught, three points, of which but little notice has hitherto been taken by the grammarian, may now be conveniently brought under notice. They mutually illustrate each other: so that the order in which they are taken is not very important.
The first is the definition of the province of Grammar. The ordinary dictum is that Grammar is the Art of Speaking and Writing correctly. To some extent this is the case. At the same time it would be a great error to suppose that it is nothing more. Hundreds and thousands of human beings speak the language of their country without writing it, and without having any recourse to the grammarian. The language, itself, is unwritten, unstudied, uncultivated; the grammarian nonexistent. Say, however, that he comes into the land where a language is thus unconsciously and instinctively spoken, and, with such lights as he has obtained in other countries, sets about reducing it to writing and rules. What does
he do? Does he take the men and women from whom he gets all that he knows of the language, and tell them how to speak their own mother tongue? Far from it. He is the learner, not the teacher; and, as a learner, he takes the language as he finds it and represents it as he best can. To cut down the words and sentences with which he deals to some standard of his own is to make language what (in his opinion) it ought to be, not what it is. It is true that he may have, in his own mind, certain tests by which he decides upon the propriety or the impropriety of what he hears. He may have an ideal standard of what good grammar is. All this, however, is a doctrine of his own. It may, or may not have, an existence in nature. Probably, it has nothing of the kind.
In Philology, as in Chemistry, Physiology, or any other inductive science, it is the business of the enquirer not to force, or constrain, the facts which nature gives him, but to interpret them. He is like a painter; whose business is to take a likeness; not to make an ideal one.
One, then, of the functions of Grammar is, to represent Language as it exists; language being a fact which we must. take as it is found.
§ 52. The next question arises as to the different divisions of Grammar. The ordinary rule is that Grammar consists of four parts-Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody. To these it is convenient to add Orthoëpy. Are all these equally parts of Grammar? A little consideration will show that only two of them are essential and fundamental.
Prosody may be disposed of first. In languages where there is no metre it has (and can have) no existence. In like manner, Orthography has none in those that are unwritten. Where was it before the invention of the Alphabet? Where is it in the numerous languages of Africa and America, which, even in the present century, have never been represented by letters? Orthoëpy, it may
be said, always exists. Wherever there is utterance or pronunciation there is Orthoëpy. It may also be said that it is closely connected with Orthography, to which it is essential and necessary. At the same time, it is doubtful whether its truer grammatical relations are not with Etymology. Etymology gives us the words of a languageand if they be not the true and actual ones they are no words at all. Orthoëpy, then, is a condition under which Orthography and Etymology are possible rather than a separate department of grammar; and, as such, it appears as a preliminary to the more important details of the grammarian. It conveys the rules for both Accent and Quantity, and (doing this) leads directly to Prosody; which, in any natural order, immediately follows. It is the practice, however, of teachers to place Prosody at the end of their Grammars, a practice in which there is no great harm, and one which may be justified by treating it as an adjunct, or appendix-an adjunct or appendix from the domain of Rhetoric-rather than a portion of true and proper Grammar. In one of the works of the present writer Prosody follows Orthoëpy and precedes Etymology. The order, however, in which they are taken may be left to the judgment of the teacher.
The real parts of Grammar are Etymology and Syntax, or (if we chose to reverse the order) Syntax and Etymology. Etymology deals with the changes of form which single words undergo: Syntax with the combination of separate words. It is clear, however, that the rules for Composition belong as much to the one as to the other department: inasmuch as in compounds like sun-beam, dog-star, &c., we have the juxtaposition of two words rather than the modification of one. Still more akin to Syntax is the composition of such words as blackbird, Thur-s-day; in the latter of which we have a form like St. John's day, or any other ordinary combination of a Possessive and a Nominative Case.
§ 53. It is now necessary to become acquainted with the nature and structure of Propositions; inasmuch as nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths, at least, of the ordinary discourse of mankind consists of them. Every sentence contains one: many sentences contain more than one. Indeed, it is not too much to say, that where there is no proposition there is no sentence. A few combinations of words, no doubt, are to be found, which fail to deliver a proposition. They are, however, very few. In the socalled Interjections, words like oh, ah, pish, &c., there is no proposition: neither is there a sentence. In broken and incomplete utterances, there is neither a full sentence nor a proposition; and in the case of the Conjunctions, there is and there is not a proposition. Upon this, however,
more will appear in the sequel. At present, it is enough to say, that combinations of words which fail to deliver a proposition are extremely rare. As a general rule, discourse consists of propositions, and of nothing but propositions. Man is mortal,-Summer is pleasant,—Winter is cold,-Life is short,—Art is long,—Fire is hot,—Iron is useful,-Bread is cheap, to which may be added innumerable others, are all propositions. And it may be added, that they are all propositions of one sort, and that of the simplest. They all contain three words, neither more nor less. They all, too, contain a statement or assertion. In the first, for instance, it is asserted of man that he is mortal ; in the second, it is asserted of summer that it is pleasant, and so on throughout.
Propositions are of three kinds, (1) Declaratory, (2) Interrogative, and (3) Imperative. Such, at least, is the view that is taken by the grammarian; a view upon which it is necessary to say a few words. In treatises upon Logicand Logic, as it is usually taught, has more to do with Propositions than even Grammar-Declaratory Propositions are the only ones recognized; it being expressly stated
that Questions and Commands are incapable of constituting Propositions.
However much this may be the case in the Art and Science of Reasoning, it is not the case in the Art and Science of Language. Grammar, as has just been stated, not only recognizes, but peremptorily requires three kinds. of Propositions. It should be added, however, that those which belong to the first class-those that are common to Logic and Grammar-are of much the most importance; for which reason, they will be taken as the type and sample of the others, and be described in full. The structure of the Declaratory Propositions being understood, that of the others is easy: the parts being the same in all.
Propositions are divided according to their Quality; as may be seen by adding to the ones under notice the word not and writing man is not mortal, summer is not pleasant, and so on. This gives us the two classes—one of Affirmatives and one of Negatives. Hence, a Declaratory Proposition is often described as a sentence, in which something is either affirmed or denied.
To say man- -mortal, summer- -pleasant, wintercold, life-short, &c., is to combine words to no purpose. They form only parts of propositions. Again to say,is mortal,- ·is pleasant,· &c., is to combine words to no purpose. They form only parts of propositions; conveying no meaning, and requiring the addition of something else in order to complete the sense. If a person use them, we ask the questions what is mortal? what is pleasant? what is cold? &c. Something or other must be mortal, or pleasant, or cold. What this something is we wish to know. We wish to know the something to which the words mortal, cold, warm, apply. We wish to know the subject of the discourse. We wish to know what that is concerning which the assertion that it is cold, or pleasant, &c., is made. Without some
is cold,—is short, is long,